Bible Study – What kind of friend are you?

Key Verse

“And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good.”
— 1 Samuel 19:4)

What kind of friend are you?

1 Samuel 18 - 20


In our text, David had just returned from killing the Philistine giant, Goliath. He was taken before King Saul, who took him into his own house. As a man, perhaps as young as eighteen years of age, this must have made a real impression on David. There were probably many temptations that came with living in the King’s palace and having a position of authority in the army, but we read how David behaved himself in spite of these temptations. David and Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a deep and close friendship. This was based on their mutual trust in God and the fellowship in their souls that resulted from that trust. Both men were warriors who were victorious because they believed God would give Israel the victory. It is possible that Jonathan was as much as ten years older than David. Jonathan’s gift to David was symbolic of the covenant between the two of them. When David was successful in battle, he received praise from the people of Israel. Although the numbers the women sang about were exaggerated, King Saul became jealous and twice tried to kill David. He even devised a plan to send David into a battle that appeared to be a certain defeat and his probable death, but God was with David. We read three times the statement, “David behaved himself wisely” (Ch 18 vs 5, 14 & 30). He was prudent. Saul had not fulfilled his promise to give his daughter in marriage to the warrior who slew Goliath. In this chapter, he demanded a further dowry from David. The requested dowry seemed humanly impossible, but with God’s help, David brought twice the required number. The intense jealousy King Saul had for David turned to fear because he knew the Lord was with David and had departed from himself. This combination of jealousy and fear made King Saul perceive David as his enemy. These feelings continued until King Saul finally committed suicide in battle a few years later.
In ch. 18, when Saul failed on two occasions to take David’s life by throwing a javelin at him, he tried placing David in harm’s way during battle and through a cunning dowry price for his daughter, Michal. By the time the events in ch. 19 occurred, however, Saul was no longer trying to be discreet in his hatred but openly commanded Jonathan and his other servants to kill David — despite the fact that David was now his son-in-law. Jonathan, being David’s best friend and seeing the error of his father’s ways, refused to do so. Instead, he warned David and interceded for him to Saul. That conversation calmed Saul, but only until David was once again successful in the next battle. After that, Saul planned to have his men wait at David’s house through the night and kill him the next morning. Michal loved her husband and did not want her father to succeed in his wicked schemes. She, like her brother Jonathan, warned David of the threat to his life and encouraged him to flee. Their house was likely built on a wall, and she was able to help him escape through the window without Saul’s “messengers” knowing. Michal then came up with her own cunning plan to buy David some time. The image she placed in David’s bed may have been a statue of a pagan household god. The Hebrew word used here, teraphim, means, “family idol.” (The same word is used in Genesis 31:19 when Rachel stole 2 of her father’s household idols.) It is unusual that such an idol would be life-size. It is also possible that the word is used figuratively meaning a depiction of a human. Whatever the case, her creation of the appearance of a person sleeping was at least somewhat convincing, for it was not until Saul ordered the messengers to bring David up in his bed that they realized what Michal had done. When Saul confronted her with her deception, rather than use wise words to appease him as Jonathan had done, she simply lied to him, saying David had threatened to kill her if she did not help him escape. Michal schemed, but David prayed. Psalm 59 records his thoughts and prayers during this time. This event marked the beginning of approximately ten years in which he was exiled and running for his life, always trusting God for his deliverance.
David found himself in Ramah, fleeing Saul’s attempts to kill him. Naioth was not a city, but the dwelling place of a particular school of prophets. It was likely a temporary village set up adjacent to Ramah, where Samuel lived. The Bible tells us that David “dwelt” there; how long he remained with Samuel is unknown. While David was there, Saul sent three sets of messengers to Ramah to capture David. Finally, Saul went himself. When he arrived in Naioth, Saul was overcome by the Spirit of God, as his messengers had been. He removed his outer garments — his armour and royal robes — and lay all that day and night, singing and praising God. In this manner, God showed His power over the hearts of men — even the king — and provided David with time to make his escape. Ramah was about four miles from Gibeah where David returned to talk to Jonathan, while Saul was looking for him in Ramah. Jonathan was David’s loyal friend and David wanted to share with him the fact that he thought Saul was out to kill him. Each new moon marked the beginning of a new month when the Law required the people to offer burnt sacrifices unto the Lord. It was a religious holiday, and the Jews were very careful to observe it. Though God had rejected Saul, he continued to bring sacrifices to God in a public way. It was also customary for him to eat publicly on this occasion along with his family and chief officers. David knew this and requested that Jonathan be excused from this assembly. He knew that if Saul indeed had it in his heart to kill him, his displeasure would show and it would be revealed to Jonathan that indeed Saul was in definite pursuit of him. After devising the plan to test Saul, David and Jonathan went into a field where they laid out their plan before God. Vs. 8 and 16 describe their covenant. In vs. 8, it is called a “covenant of the Lord,” and vs. 16 speaks of a covenant Jonathan was making with the house of David to protect his seed. A covenant is a binding contract of two or more persons who have agreed to its terms. It is usually created by a deed in writing, sealed, and executed. In this case, it was a verbal agreement between two friends whose utmost desire was to do God’s will and to be true to their friendship. Their covenant was witnessed by God, whose presence they implored, and who would be the final executor of its terms. In their covenant, they agreed to be honest in their communication with each other regarding what would transpire in David’s absence. At the feast, when Saul angrily made it known that Jonathan was a traitor for letting David leave, Jonathan knew that David’s life was in danger. According to their agreed-upon signal, Jonathan shot three arrows beyond the place where David was. David knew that this meant to leave and the two friends parted after much grief and tears — Jonathan went back to his father and family and David away from them.



Have you ever had a situation when you needed an intercessor — a time when your explanation would not be heard or accepted, but you thought maybe the words of someone else would get through? Years ago, I worked with someone whose attitude indicated that I must have offended her in some way. Yet, no matter how much I thought about it, I could not think of what it might be. As I took the matter to the Lord in prayer, I considered apologizing. However, I was concerned that doing so would make the situation even more awkward. She was probably thinking that any hard feelings she had for me were completely hidden. Worse yet, maybe she had not even realized resentment was there! I did not know what to do, so I continued to pray with all my heart that God would show me, or that somehow the situation would change. Suddenly, and in a way I cannot account for, God answered that prayer. Her attitude changed seemingly overnight and I had a new friend. The only plausible explanation is that the ultimate Intercessor spoke on my behalf. Through the years since I am still awed at how the Lord completely turned that situation around. In ch. 19, Jonathan was an intercessor to his father, King Saul, on behalf of his best friend, David. Saul was extremely jealous of David’s success in battle and his resulting popularity with the people (1 Samuel 18:6-7), so much so that he sought to kill David. In our key verse, Jonathan reminded Saul that David had always been good to them and persuaded Saul to put aside his jealousy. It was not long, however, before Saul was once again seeking to take David’s life — just after the next battle in fact. The truth is that human intercession can only do so much good. It is only the influence of the ultimate Intercessor that can make remarkable and lasting changes in a life. If Saul had humbled himself before God, He would have turned Saul’s heart completely, as He did in my situation. However, because of Saul’s disobedience, the kingdom was taken from him and given to David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). David also learned many valuable lessons while running for his life, and we benefit t today by his thoughts recorded in the Book of Psalms. Doyouneedan intercessor today? Trust Jesus with the situation! He can work wonders in difficult places, and even if the situation does not work out as you would have liked, He always has your best interest at heart and will do what is ultimately best.
David had a friend when he really needed one. He had some unusual circumstances take place in his life. He went from taking care of sheep to being anointed king over Israel. Imagine such a change! A lot of events were to take place in David’s life before he sat upon the throne, and God was faithful to bring Jonathan along at that time to help him through the difficult days ahead. Jonathan, King Saul’s son, loved David. The Bible says, “Jonathan loved him as he loved his own soul” (1 Samuel 18:1). That is quite a friend! God knew that David needed just that type of friend. God is so good. I remember a time when a friend gave me his car to drive to work, and he took the bus! I could not imagine that, but he insisted, so I did! The worst part about that kind gesture is that I wrecked his car twice, and he was still kind to me and had it fixed and gave it back to me! I was flabbergasted. I used to ask myself, how could someone be so good to me? Well, I did not let that one pass me by — I married him. He is still kind to me to this day, after seventeen years of marriage. Though David and Jonathan’s relationship was unusual, given the circumstances, it withstood great challenges. The element that made it possible was that they both loved God. Jonathan, though loyal to his father, recognized that God’s plan included David being the next king. From a human standpoint, that must have been difficult to deal with, however, Jonathan loved God and he submitted to His plan. This made it possible for him to extend his friendship to David at a time when David needed it most. Today, the same elements can be present in our friendships. When God is at the center of our lives, we can extend ourselves to others in acts of kindness. As Christians, we have experienced God extending His love to us each day. That makes us the most qualified individuals to spread kindness to others. We must look for ways to do just that each day.



Question 1
What quality in David’s character is revealed in I Samuel 18:18?
Question 2
Why do you think the Lord withdrew his presence from King Saul?
Question 3
Why was Saul seeking to kill David? I Samuel 19:1
Question 4
Why do you think God allowed David to be chased by Saul?
Question 5
What do we learn about Jonathan’s character in I Samuel 20?
Question 6
Consider your character and integrity. Do you find any weaknesses? If so, what steps can you take to strengthen your Christian integrity?



What we do in private is the real indicator of who we are. May God help us to spend quality time with Him privately, so that we may behave ourselves wisely, with character and integrity, when we are in public and living our lives with the watching world.
David trusted God to be his ultimate Intercessor and Deliverer. We should do the same in our lives so that God can bless us as He did David! A friend you can trust is of great value in time of need. God has extended His love to us, so we must show kindness to others. By being true and loyal to God, we will be the kind of friend that God intends for us to be to someone in need.